Campbell adamant he can deliver
IT'S a question many Queenslanders are asking.
How did an economy once rated one of the best in the western world become such an economic basket case?
How did we go from the boom state with business flourishing, the property market on the boil, tradies raking it in and people moving from across Australia to join us in the sunshine to becoming a state with little prospects of jobs, apart from in mining?
“How did it get so bad, ladies and gentleman?” LNP leader Campbell Newman asked at Woombye on Thursday afternoon.
The question resonated well around a room filled with developers, real estate and business people, and ordinary residents wondering whether their kids would find a job on the Sunshine Coast.
Mr Newman said even a Labor government in turmoil in NSW had not managed to lose its state's AAA credit rating.
He told of how Queensland's debt would soar to $80 billion in two-and-a-half years from $30 billion four years ago.
The interest bill was a staggering $540,000 an hour.
While Premier Anna Bligh and Treasurer Andrew Fraser have sought to blame the floods and the cyclones for Queensland's poor position, Mr Newman argued the problems started well before then.
“It's not the floods, it's not the cyclones, it's not the global financial crisis, it's the ALP,” he said.
“This Labor Government has taken us to the dark side of the boom.
“I'm so scared about where this state is going.”
The “Can Do” former Brisbane City Lord mayor vowed to make Queensland the number one place to have a business and invest again, the best place to raise a family, to get an education, and to live.
He said he would do this by delivering on what he said, as he had done in the council.
Campbell Newman points to his success in building major bridges, tunnels, parks and gardens and pools as well as adding 700 buses to Brisbane's public transport fleet in seven years.
In contrast, he said Labor delivered 63 buses in five years.
He said he would take the same approach to Queensland, rebuilding the four pillars of the economy: property, tourism, agricultural and mining.
Mr Newman said property development had been strangled by red tape in Queensland with government departments failing to approve projects in a timely manner while he said regional plans were “misguided”.
Queensland also had to revive its agricultural industry by improving rail infrastructure, irrigation, dams and research and development.
But he admitted it was not going to be easy balancing the infrastructure demands of a growing population with the need to reduce debt.
And he was not about to make any big promises for the Sunshine Coast, saying government projects would have to be prioritised, based on need, and the potential to improve the economy.
While he said he would love to scrap a range of taxes, including land tax and payroll tax, in the short term that was unlikely given the state of the Queensland economy.
“The state is going broke.”
The question many voters will be asking is can Campbell Newman really fix it.